Militants planned to attack Singapore with a rocket
Though perceived by analysts as having low capabilities, with its latest terror attack on Indonesian soil killing no one but its own operative, a local terror network linked to the Islamic State (IS) movement is aiming high with its terror plots.
The National Police on Wednesday announced the arrest of six militants in Batam, Riau Islands, who the police say planned to fire a rocket from Batam to Singapore.
The six militants are believed to be part of a new terror group called Katibah Gonggong Rebus, led by Gigih Rahmat Dewa. Gigih is believed to have taken orders from Bahrun Naim, the alleged mastermind of the Jan. 14 attack in Jakarta that left four civilians dead.
“GRD and Bahrun Naim planned to launch a rocket from Batam to Marina Bay, Singapore,” National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said, using Gigih’s initials.
Gigih is said to have received funding from Bahrun, who is believed to reside in areas controlled by IS in Syria and Iraq.
Both men want to create terrorist cells in several Southeast Asian countries, the police said.
Analysts, however, doubt that the militants had the resources and capabilities to launch a successful attack in Singapore, let alone hit the city-state with a rocket.
“It is crazy to think anyone could succeed in firing a rocket at Marina Bay,” Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) director Sidney Jones told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Friday.
However, that the group was thinking of attacking Singapore is a dangerous development, she added.
This is not the first case of Indonesian terrorists planning to attack Singapore. In 2000, Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) plotted to carry out an attack on Changi International Airport. The plan was led by Huda bin Abdul Haq, an Indonesian national who was a senior JI member with direct links to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
He was convicted and executed in 2008 for his role in coordinating the 2002 Bali bombings.
“But it is too early now. I don’t have any additional information about how these people got in touch with Bahrun Naim or how advanced the plan was,” Sidney said.
Another police spokesman, Agus Rianto, said the police could not confirm whether the rocket existed, adding that the investigation was underway.
“We will continue with our investigation. Does the rocket really exist? Where did they put it? When did they plan to attack?”
Terrorism expert Al Chaidar said IS-linked terror cells in Indonesia were likely to target Singapore. “They were inspired by Bahrun Naim’s Singaporean friend in Syria who said it was really hard to attack Singapore,” he said, adding that Singapore had long been known to have a tight security system.
Gigih was arrested in his house at the Mediterania residential complex in Batam at 8:30 a.m. He was the last to be arrested after the other five were nabbed earlier the same day in their respective houses.
Of the six men arrested, five worked as employees for electronic companies. The other was an employee in a local bank.
Gigih, who reportedly received funding from Bahrun, is said to have provided accommodation for Uighur militants in Batam and to have facilitated Indonesians wanting to fight for IS in Syria.
The police also took away Gigih’s wife and baby when arresting him.
A community leader in the area where Gigih lived, Sundari, said she had known Gigih since 2011. She said the man, who hailed from Surakarta, Central Java, had become more reclusive after marrying a girl with in veil. “He changed after the marriage. He rarely joined in neighborhood meetings.”
IS-linked terror groups have carried out a series of small-scale terror attacks in Indonesia and Malaysia. The latest attack carried out by pro-IS supporters occurred a day before Idul Fitri in Surakarta, when a suicide bomber hit a local police station, killing only himself. (win)
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